Lewis Hamilton took practically two months to emotionally recuperate from the controversial Components One finale that value him a file eighth championship. The Mercedes driver insisted Friday he by no means thought-about quitting F1 in protest.
As soon as he accepted the outcomes, Hamilton put the debacle behind him and started preparation for the upcoming season.
“Moments like this may outline careers, I refuse to let this outline mine,” Hamilton stated from Mercedes’ workforce headquarters in Brackley, England.
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Hamilton dominated the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in December and was 5 laps away from breaking a tie with Michael Schumacher for many titles in F1 historical past. However a Nicholas Latifi crash introduced out a warning and set in movement a frenzied sequence of occasions that altered the end.
Race director Michael Masi modified his thoughts when deciding learn how to conclude the race and Max Verstappen, who had pitted for recent tires, was lined up second behind Hamilton with all lapped site visitors eliminated between title contenders on a restart with one lap remaining. Hamilton on outdated tires had little probability to defend Verstappen, who handed the British driver to win his first world title.
The FIA on Thursday introduced sweeping adjustments to its race management procedures and eliminated Masi as race director following an intensive evaluate of the season finale.
Mercedes has accepted the outcomes of the evaluate and Hamilton stated he is prepared for one more run on the file ebook. Hamilton stated he takes no problem with Verstappen and has been involved to supply “my full help” to Latifi, who obtained demise threats following the finale.
“I don’t maintain any grudges with anyone; I by no means suppose that’s ever a very good factor to hold round with you,” he stated. “I moved ahead. I don’t dwell on the previous. I really feel centered and totally centered. I don’t have something over my shoulders holding me again this yr.
“When you suppose what you noticed on the finish of the final yr was my finest, wait to see this yr.”
Hamilton gained three consecutive races to tie Verstappen within the standings headed into the decider in Abu Dhabi. He dominated the race and led 51 of the 58 laps; Verstappen led solely the ultimate lap in profitable the title.
Hamilton gave only one transient interview after climbing from his automobile however appeared shell-shocked on the rostrum as Verstappen and Crimson Bull celebrated. He skipped the obligatory post-race information convention, boycotted the season-ending gala, and made only one public look — three days after the race when Hamilton obtained his knighthood at Windsor Citadel.
Hamilton’s retreat from the general public eye did little to quell hypothesis he was so disgruntled that he was contemplating strolling away from F1 after 103 victories over 15 seasons. He lastly re-emerged earlier this month with a social media submit, then participated Friday in Mercedes’ launch of its automobile for the upcoming season.
Hamilton took questions for about 20 minutes Friday and stated he spent the time after Abu Dhabi together with his total household — a uncommon second they had been all collectively in the identical place — as he “simply unplugged. Switched off.” He stated he centered on being current together with his family members and has not watched a replay of the race, feeling no urge to revisit the occasion.
Mercedes workforce principal Toto Wolff stated he was “by no means involved” that Hamilton would retire.
“We knew he wanted to take the time to mirror on issues and notably to know how he would return in the best way of thinking,” Wolff stated. “I feel what he did was completely proper to take himself out of the microcosm of Components One and step apart. He has come again in an excellent mindset. He’s constructive, he’s decided and he, but once more, adversity that was thrown at him will make him stronger. It’s assault mode.”
Hamilton turned 37 final month and shall be paired with fellow British driver George Russell this season as Russell moved from Williams to Mercedes. He stated he is as dedicated as ever to racing for one more title.
“I feel on the finish of seasons, the query is whether or not you might be prepared to commit the time, the trouble, that it takes to be a world champion,” Hamilton stated. “Do you wish to sacrifice the time? Do you consider that you could proceed to punch larger than the load you might be punching?
“That is a standard psychological course of for me, however in fact this one was compounded by a big issue and I feel finally a sport that I liked my complete life, there was a second that I misplaced a little bit bit of religion throughout the system. However I am usually a really decided particular person. I’m centered on being one of the best I might be and coming again stronger.”
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